GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Choose one of the categories below to narrow your choiceEnvironment
Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE)
2017 Trump administration proposed rule to replace the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.Referenced by...
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
The gas that makes up most of emitted greenhouse gases.
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act is a series of laws that were enacted to make the air we breathe cleaner by reducing the amount of pollutants emitted by cars, factories, etc.
It was first enacted in 1963, but has been updated several times as the understanding of air pollution improved.
Click here to read our discussion of the Clean Air Act.Referenced by...
Clean Power Plan (CPP)
A 2015 policy issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce pollution from power plants.Referenced by...
Climate Action Plan
A comprehensive plan proposed by the Barack Obama administration in 2013 to address Climate Change.
Click here for a fact sheet on the plan (with a link to the full plan).
One of the primary effects of Global Warming.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
Federally mandated fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sold in the United States. They were enacted in 1975 by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
Manufacturers are measured against the standard by the average fuel mileage of all the vehicles they sold in a year. Therefore, a manufacturer's score is affected both by the efficiency of their vehicles and by the distribution of smaller cars to larger ones.
If a manufacturer does not meet the CAFE standards in a year, it is fined approximately $50 for every mile-per-gallon below the requirement - for every car it sold. The fine can be avoided by using credits earned by exceeding the standards in previous years.
Areas that contain features essential to the survival of an endangered or threatened species, and that may require special management and protection.
For more, read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service description.
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
You can learn more about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule at www.epa.gov/csapr.
DOI Methane and Waste Prevention Rule
A 2016 rule issued by the Department of the Interior (DOI) requiring oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and tribal lands.
This source of pollution is the second-largest industrial contributor to climate change in the United States, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The rule will result in a reduction of pollution equivalent to almost 1 million cars per year, and recover enough gas to supply about three-quarters of a million homes per year.
The full name of the rule is "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation".
DOI Stream Protection Rule
A 2016 rule issued by the Department of the Interior (DOI) requiring coal mining companies to avoid practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests.
Companies also would be required to monitor streams that could be affected by their mining operations.
In February 2017, Congress voted to prevent this regulation from taking effect.
Endangered Species List
A list of animal, bird, and plant species whose existence is considered at risk.
Species on the list are classified as either...
The list is maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as specified in the 1973 Endangered Species Act.
Website: www.FWS.gov/endangered.Referenced by...
This will be less of a definition than an explanation of how we discuss terms such as global warming and climate change.
First of all, those two terms often are used interchangeably. We differentiate them - referring to global warming as the rise in the earth's temperature and climate change as one of the consequences of global warming.
We will not argue whether these things are taking place. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence and concurrence among scientists makes a few things certain enough to not waste time continuing the argument in News in FiVe's discussions...
Any discussions we have involving the topic will assume the above points.
Image Source: Conserve-Energy-Future.com
Great Lakes Water Compact
A 2008 agreement among the eight states bordering the Great Lakes that controls how water from the lakes can be used - with the goal being to preserve the lakes.
For more, visit www.GreatLakes.org/compact.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG)
Gasses emitted into the earth's atmosphere that trap heat - increasing Global Warming.
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor.
Air pollution that obscures outdoor views.
Read more about haze at the Environmental Protection Agency website.
A large floating platform of ice that extends from a land mass onto the ocean surface.
For more, read the National Snow & Ice Data Center article.Referenced by...
A species that is sensitive enough to its environment that its condition can be used to measure conditions of that environment itself.
For more, read the WorldAtlas article.
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)
You can learn more about the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule at www.epa.gov/mats.
A tiny plastic particle (typically smaller than a millimeter) used in cosmetic products such as liquid soap and toothpaste - generally added for exfoliation.
Because most of their use is for personal cleansing, they end up in bodies of water.
They were banned in the United States starting in 2017.
Tiny (smaller than 5 millimeter) bits of plastic that are the byproducts of other products containing plastic.
Some estimates have predicted there to be more than 200 thousand tons of microplastics in the world's oceans. Sources of this microplastic pollution include...
To read about some of the harm that can come from microplastics, read this National Geographic story.
Forests with old trees.
If that seems obvious, it's because there is little agreed-upon criteria as to what makes a forest old-growth. Groups such as the lumber industry prefer more restrictive criteria, so that more would be available for logging. Environmentalists tend to use broader criteria, so that more would be preserved.
Old-growth forests help remove carbon - one of the main causes of climate change - from the atmosphere. The carbon gets locked away in tree trunks and soil.
For more, read the Yale Climate Connections article.
Paris Climate Change AgreementReferenced by...
PFASs are a set of related chemicals used in many industrial products such as cleaners, waterproof clothes, furniture, take-out containers, insulation, and non-stick surfaces. They also are used in fire-fighting foams - particularly by the military.
They don't degrade in biological systems - including in humans.
Drinking water contaminated with PFASs has been linked to serious health problems.
A study conducted between 2013 and 2015 found water supplies that serve 6 million people in the United States contained amounts of PFASs greater than the safety limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Most in-home water filters are not able to filter PFASs from tap water..
PFAS is an acronym for Per-and polyFluoroAlkyl Substances.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies air pollution by its source...
Regional Haze Rule
A series of regulations issued to lessen haze in national parks and wilderness areas.
A form of air pollution resembling a smoky fog. It is a combinations of the words smoke and fog.
Solid Waste Disposal Act
1965 law enacted to help deal with new types and increased amount of discarded materials from consumer packaging, industry, construction, and agriculture.
Click here for more about the law.
Stewardship of Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes
2010 Executive Order issued by Pres. Barack Obama establishing a national policy to ensure the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources.
Click here to read Executive Order 13547.
Federal program to clean up sites that have been contaminated with hazardous substances.
Originally, most of the money for the fund came from a tax on the industries that were at risk for creating the contamination. However, most of the funding since 2001 comes from public money.
It was created by the 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
Click here for more about the Superfund.
The difference from a baseline of previous values - for example comparing one year's temperature to an average of the previous 30 years.
In climate change studies, anomalies convey more meaningful information than absolute values, because absolute values can depend on factors such as location and altitude.
Adding a new weather station, for example, would affect the overall average temperature differently depending on whether that station was atop an Alaskan mountain or in the middle of a Hawaiian rainforest. Anomalies tend to be more consistent among locations.
For more, read the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explanation.Referenced by...
U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
1992 international treaty for working toward limiting greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
The framework does not set limits and there are no enforcement provisions. Instead, it works as a guideline for for future environmental treaties (often referred to as agreements or protocols).
U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF)
An international fund that helps poor countries...
U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)
Federal program that coordinates research on Climate Change across several federal agencies and scientific organizations.
The program releases publications that assess the impacts of climate change.
It was established by 1990 Global Change Research Act
Website: www.GlobalChange.gov.Referenced by...